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Features in the CTrader ECN Platform

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One of the newer additions to the forex trading platform offerings can be found in cTrader, created in 2011 by the London based cTrader Limited. The platform is tailored specifically for ECN brokers, offered initially by FXPro (one of the leading ECN brokers in the forex business). The cTrader platform shows competitive pricing from global forex sources (as opposed to those of Market Makers which, will display their own rates). With efficient trading execution and a clean, attractive charting package as its central strengths, cTrader is an uncluttered, intuitive and easy to use alternative for traders looking to start with an ECN broker. Here we will look at some of the specific features available in the platform to get a better sense of the benefits and drawbacks of cTrader as an option for placing positions and conducting technical analysis.


Summary of Features


A quick summary of the features made available with the cTrader platform shows an attractive list, relative to many of its counterparts.


1. One-Click Order Execution

2. Fail Safe Sell/Buy Limit Orders

3. Detachable Options in the Charting Station

4. Ability to Switch Between Multiple Accounts

5. Advanced Technical Analysis Tools

6. Advanced Charts

7. Expanded Trade Watch Feature

8. Level II Market Pricing (complete market depth)

9. Fully Customizable

10. Intuitive User Interface


Trading Execution


Next, we will look at one of the aspects that will be of central importance to all traders but particularly to those with shorter term time frame strategies. Visually, the layout resembles what is generally seen in metatrader (which will be a positive, as it contributes to familiarity). With this, prices are displayed on the left while charts are located on the right side of the platform. A key difference, however, can be seen relative to the fact that this is a platform accessing ECN price feeds. Specifically, the price feeds on the left of the platform will show current volume levels under the bid/ask prices in each currency pair, and these will change and update in real time. This is highly valuable information for many trading strategies (such as scalping), where it is important to see how sentiment in the majority is beginning to shift.


Upticks and downticks are color coded (green and red) and trading execution can be customized for either one or two clicks, depending on your requirements for trading speed and additional confirmation. For more conservative traders, there is a safety setting (which brings up a standard pop up entry order) rather than allowing one click trading. Trading sizes, however, are relatively limited. This will be viewed as unfavorable for traders looking to place mini- or micro-lots. Trading sizes can be altered in a field that is conveniently located with respect to the BUY and SELL buttons, and this will be another significant benefit for traders with short term strategies. Simply click on your currency pair and the quote will expand, allowing an order to be placed.


Overall, the cTrader platform is designed to allow traders to place trades in an aggressive manner (if desired), as the platform provides all of the necessary tools to maximize trading efficiency with its clearly laid-out interface.


Entries, Stop Losses and Take Profits


In each trade, entries,stop losses and take profit orders all must be entered as separate orders. Essentially, these orders cannot be bracketed, so if a long position will be taken in the EUR/USD, and you want a price that is below the current market price, you must enter common Buy Limit order and a separate Sell Stop order which will work as a stop loss. When the Buy Limit is filled, another order (your Sell Limit order) can be placed to work as a take profit order. Once the stop loss or take profit is filled, the other order must be cancelled manually.


This activity does require a certain amount of care, as each part of the trade (each order) must be equal to the correct position size, so it can be easy to make mistakes. So for example, mistakes would be seen if a 2 lot position was incorrectly coupled with a 3 lot stop loss order, but the process does become easier once a few trades are placed. Pending orders can be displayed on the chart itself, which makes it much easier to track a position once it has been opened. Traders can also view the tabs labeled Positions, Orders and Deals tabs to monitor pending trades. Another way to make trades easier to place is to use the Favorites column where your most frequently traded pairs can be collected. The quote box in this column expands to give you quick access to these pairs.


Charting Software


The charting software provides a thorough set of trading tools and are relatively easy to use. cTrader offers dual modes: multi-chart and single-chart. Traders can view multiple, tiled charts or fill the chart area filled with a single chart, just as with MetaTrader. Charts can be detached to a separate window outside of the platform itself, which creates its own Windows taskbar for easier use. The color setting in each chart can be easily customized from the default view (which is set every time a chart is opened), but this must be done for each chart, individually. But this does not need to be done each time the platform is opened (just as with MetaTrader).


In terms of time frames, there is a great deal more flexibility, with cTrader offering a much wider variety of options with 2, 3, 4, 10, and 30 minute charting options all available below the 1 hour level. Above this level, the more common 4-hour, daily, weekly and monthly charting options can be found. One difference with cTrader is the 12-hour option which is also available. Timeframes can be changed with a pulldown menu, which helps to save screen space.


Available Indicators


cTrader includes more than 40 indicators, divided into various categories (Trend, Oscillators, Volatility and Other), with all of the regular choices available. One area of weakness here, however, can be found with the Fibonacci tools, which do not allow traders to make custom Fib levels along with the defaults. For example, between 61.8% and 100%, 78.6% and 88.6% cannot be added. Additionally, there is no Fib extension tool for taking wave measurements but this can be done manually if the retracement tools are used. For these reasons,some traders might opt to use more than one platform for analysis if these are critical factors.



Looking at the overall performance of the cTrader platform, there are a lot of advantages (in terms of design and execution scope) that place the application in a strong position relative competitor offerings. While there are some small features that are not available, the platform does cater to a wide variety of trading styles and performs well in terms of speed and execution. The interface is clean and intuitive and allows trades to be easily tracked without the use of multiple monitors (using the Smart Multiple Charts feature).


The Advanced charting features provide most of the necessary tools to conduct technical analysis (with some exceptions in the Fibonacci area) with easy object control and user schemes that are easy to control and customize. The Expanded Trade Watch makes it relatively easy to control open orders and margin levels so that positions can be tracked easily before and after they are opened. Overall, the cTrader ECN platform is a solid means for accessing these markets, which is why it has steadily grown in popularity since its initial offering.


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cTrader is supposed to be the next Metatrader 4/5. We'll have to wait and see. One advantage with having a consistent platform across multiple brokers is the incredible ecosystem that is developed around it. It is easier to judge a broker's performance when one important component remains constant, like the trading platform.

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